First off, this post isn’t sponsored in the least bit. I had a great experience and want to share it with you all
There is one task I tend to dread each evening – making dinner. After a day at the office, the last thing I want to do is spend a good chunk of my night coming up with something to make for dinner and then actually cooking said meal. We tend to eat the same thing a lot of the time – a protein with a starch and a veggie. While this is good (and good for you), it does get pretty boring and makes me want to go grab takeout far more than we should.
A few months ago, my friend Meg told me about a place where you can prep a bunch of meals ahead of time, take home the food, freeze it, and then cook it at a later date. I have been wanting to go try it for quite some time now, but never got around to it. We had nothing going on over the weekend, so I decided to just sign up and go for it – I was headed to Dinner Done!
I looked online at the menu when I signed up, chose 8 meals, and then went ahead and paid for them to reserve my spot. I was sent some instructions in my confirmation email to make the experience the best it could be, which included getting there a few minutes early for orientation. When I showed up on Saturday, the incredibly nice staff gave me the run down on the process. I was assigned a number so I would have room in the cooler just for my food – this way I didn’t have to worry about how to keep it cool while I was prepping the other entrées.
I was given an apron, and it was go time. I had 8 meals to make, so I needed to get working! Here are the items I chose to make. I doubled up on salmon since that is a crowd favorite in our house.
Cider Glazed Chicken with Cranberry Pecan Rice
Spicy Peanut Noodles with Shrimp
Braised Beef Provencal
Dijon Herb Pork Tenderloin
Wine Country Atlantic Salmon
Balsamic Glazed Beef with Parmesan Butter
Classic Pork with Apple-Walnut Filling
There was a different station for each meal and all the ingredients were there for me. The scoops in the different ingredients were all color coded. So, the black handled scoop was always a cup, and the red handled scoop was always ½ a cup. This way, I always knew what I needed to measure out. (P.S. – those aren’t really the actual scoop measurements – I’m just guessing here). The directions were sitting at each station in a very easy to follow format. It told me what food to put where, including spraying my pan and grabbing a medium container instead of a large one, depending on the meal I was making.
There is no order, rhyme or reason to the order I made my meals in. As soon as a station opened up that has the meal I was signed up to make, I grabbed it! The recipes told me what to do for a whole order (4-6 servings), or half of that meal (2-3 servings). If you are living alone and don’t want to have the same meal 4 nights in a row because of the large serving size, dividing the meal in two is a great way to not get sick of that entrée.
Once I finished prepping my meal, I took it over to the wrapping station. Wrapping the different items prolongs the freezer life, as they are a lot less likely to get freezer burn. At the wrapping station, there is a file folder of stickers matching up to everything on the menu in alphabetical order. These stickers have the directions on how to cook each entrée once I get home. I placed the sticker on the lid, wrapped it up, and I was done! Then, I just repeated this process for each meal I signed up for.
One really amazing plus of this entire experience is there was no cleanup! After I made each meal, a member of the staff was right behind me cleaning up my mess, prepping the station for the next person. This was a dream for me! If there is one thing I dislike more than actually having to cook a meal is the cleanup. This is such a huge perk in my book!
I was at Dinner Done from 12:15 to 1:30 and got everything finished in that timeframe. I brought reusable grocery bags since I only live about 20 minutes away. Plenty of other people there brought large coolers to store their food in on their drive home – these people had a system down, that’s for sure!
So far, we have had 2 of the meals – the classic pork with apple walnut filling and the spicy peanut noodles with shrimp. We have loved them both and each meal will definitely be serving us 4 times (we eat a lot). For people who don’t eat quite as much at a sitting, I would imagine they would get 6 servings out of each meal for sure. I think the 8 meals will last us 2.5 to 3 weeks for dinner, which averages out to around $3-5 per serving. Well worth it in my book!
Have you ever been to a meal prep place? Did you find value in the time it took you to prepare the items compared to how long it would take you at home?